If Reading were looking to drum up enthusiasm for a season of Championship football, they couldn’t pick many better things to do than smashing their transfer record. But that’s exactly what the Royals did this week, forking out a reported fee of at least £8 million to land George Pușcaș - one of the more highly rated young strikers in Europe.
The striker’s certainly had an interesting career so far, moving from his home country of Romania to Inter Milan, then around Italy and finally to Reading. I’ve had a look below at recapping where his time in football has taken him so far.
George Alexandru Pușcaș is a 23 year-old centre forward from Romania. More specifically, he comes from the very northwest of the country - the city of Marghita in Bihor County - which happens to be pretty close to Debrecen in Hungary, where former Reading man Peter Mate plays.
Pușcaș’ first two clubs would both be based in the main city of Bihor County: Oradea. First up was Liberty Oradea, a fifth-tier team until they went out of existence in 2017, but he didn’t make a professional appearance before joining second-tier Bihor Oradea on loan in 2012. They themselves went bust in January 2016.
His break outside Romania came with a move to Inter Milan in 2013 from Liberty although, according to ESPN, he’d also trained with Arsenal. Pușcaș’ opening years in Italy were spent playing youth football for Inter Milan Primavera, for whom he netted an impressive 24 goals in 29 league games across the course of the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons.
Pușcaș was turning heads at the San Siro, and he was finally given his chance to impress in Serie A by Roberto Mancini in February 2015 when he came off the bench against Sassuolo. Later that month came his first appearance in the Europa League - a cameo at home to Celtic - before he was handed his first start when Inter hosted Parma in April.
However, he would never be given a proper run in the Nerazzurri’s first team, instead being farmed out on loan to various sides in Serie B, the second tier of Italian football. First up was Bari in 2015/16, before helping Benevento to promotion in 2016/17. Having spent the first half of 2017/18 with the (relegated straight away) Benevento), he switched to Novara in the second half.
That brings us up to last season, when Pușcaș was given the full campaign on loan at Palermo. It was a fruitful campaign for him, with nine goals in 33 appearances, but the Sicilian side were racked with financial woes off the pitch.
As Sempre Inter explained, Palermo were due to pay €3 million for the striker but defaulted when they went bust. Nonetheless, Inter needed to cash in on Pușcaș to stay within Financial Fair Play, so continued to entertain bids. Fast-forward to August 2019, and an acceptable one was submitted from Berkshire.
Pușcaș has done particularly well at international level too, appearing for Romania’s under-17, under-19, under-21 and senior sides, but mostly for the under-21s. That particular stint started against Italy (a touch ironically) in August 2014, and has run all the way to June 2019 when he showed his class by being named in the team of the tournament for the under-21 Euros, which were held in Italy.
He played all four of Romania’s games in the competition, scoring the same number of goals. The first came in a 4-1 win over Croatia, the second against England (both those matches being in the group stage), before he netted a brace in a 4-2 semi-final defeat to Germany.
In fact, his performances were so impressive that he was the only player from neither finalist side (Germany and Spain) to make the team of the tournament. He was put as the lone striker in an XI that also featured the likes of Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos and Borussia Dortmund’s Mahmoud Dahoud.
Not bad, huh? So can he replicate that in Berkshire? Only time will tell but, as our guest writer Joe Donnohue wrote, don’t rule it out.